Notes Somber Start for Durant

By Associated PressJanuary 2, 2007, 5:00 pm
PGA Tour (75x100)KAPALUA, Hawaii -- Joe Durant had not qualified for the winners-only Mercedes-Benz Championship in five years, so his holiday season was brimming with excitement about a trip to Maui to start the year.
 
He arrived in a somber mood, still stunned over the Christmas Eve death of his sister-in-law.
 
'My brother and his wife were at our house and we had a party for a bunch of us, and they went back to the condo at the beach,' Durant said. 'They were there about 30 minutes and she passed away. They still don't have a cause of death.'
 
Durant was extremely close to his older brother, Flip, and his wife, Frances, who came to several PGA TOUR events.
 
He was supposed to arrive at Kapalua on Wednesday, but the family held a memorial service for Frances Durant on Thursday, and Durant flew to Hawaii on Saturday.
 
'It was a tough holiday,' Durant said. 'Trust me, coming over here ... it was a hard trip to make. As excited as you are about going some place, when that happens to someone you love so much ... You want to get excited because you know your family is excited, but it's tough.'
 
Durant never imagined he would be at Kapalua six months ago.
 
He was in danger of losing his card, but a top-10 showing at the Buick Open got him off the bubble. He won at Disney, tied for fourth in Tampa and ended the year with a tie for third at the Tour Championship, moving up to 13th on the money list with more than $2.8 million, his highest finish.
 
'It was a great finish for me and for my family,' he said. 'Halfway through the year, I wanted the year to be over. And by the end of the year, I didn't want it to stop.'
 
KING OF KAPALUA
Stuart Appleby has won three straight years at the Mercedes-Benz Championship, and it reached the point that people said he ought to buy property.
 
So he did.
 
Appleby purchased a lot on Honolua Ridge and plans to build a home, joining Jim Furyk as past champions (Furyk won in 2001) with homes at Kapalua.
 
'It's an amazing piece of property,' Appleby said. 'It's not my home, but it's become my golf home in a way. Half of my victories have come out of this sections of the woods, so it was a no-brainer.'
 
DORAL CHANGE
Piling up FedExCup points early might pay off for some players trying to get into the World Golf Championship at Doral. The PGA TOUR added another criteria for the CA Championship, taking the top 10 in FedExCup standings the Monday before (March 12) and the Monday of (March 19) the tournament.
 
Previously, this WGC event took the top 50 in the world ranking and top money leaders from each tour. That criteria hasn't changed.
 
IN THE BAG
David Toms will make his debut at Kapalua with his new TaylorMade irons, having signed a new endorsement deal after Cleveland decided not to renew any of its contracts.
 
The change could include the end of a club that made him famous -- his 5-wood.
 
Toms has had the club since 1998, and his most memorable shot came in the third round of the 2001 PGA Championship when he made a hole-in-one on the 15th hole at Atlanta Athletic Club, where he went on to win by one shot.
 
He was testing a TaylorMade hybrid at the Target World Challenge two weeks ago, and he was trying out another hybrid during a practice round Monday at the Mercedes-Benz Championship.
 
'Sooner or later, I'm going to retire it,' Toms said.
 
Joe Durant is using the latest irons from Cleveland, putting aside a model he has used for eight years. He tried to switch last year, returned to his old clubs and finished the year with a victory and two top-five finishes.
 
'I struggled last year trying to make a transition to the irons, and the guys at Cleveland were nice enough to give me the year to really work on it,' Durant said. 'This year, I knew I needed to make a switch and here I am. I'm happy with what I've got in the bag.'
 
He also left Titleist, signing a ball, shoe and glove deal with Callaway.
 
DALY DOINGS
John Daly chalked up his worst year on the PGA TOUR to injuries, particularly problems with his sciatic nerve. Apparently, he still hasn't fully recovered.
 
Daly was in the Phoenix area this week when his right leg went numb, said his agent, Bud Martin. Martin said Daly went to a hospital to get an MRI, and the tests came back negative.
 
The two-time major champion lost his PGA TOUR card last year and will be playing on sponsors' exemptions, with his first start next week in the Sony Open.
 
SEEING RED
Tiger Woods is known for wearing some form of red on Sunday. Luke Donald tends to wear white pants in the final round, although he unwittingly chose a red shirt for the final round of the PGA Championship, where he was tied for the lead with Woods.
 
Was it a mistake?
 
Donald said he was in a no-win situation.
 
The Englishman doesn't like to concern himself with what to wear each night, so he determined what his outfits would be when he arrived at Medinah, and it was a red shirt for Sunday.
 
'Obviously, Saturday night I knew I was playing with Tiger,' he said. 'I think if I changed my outfit, it was almost like giving in to him already on the first hole. It was nothing against Tiger. I wasn't trying to make a statement or anything. I thought if I changed it, I'd have already lost.'
 
Paul Casey went the other direction.
 
He also had chosen a red shirt to wear in the final round of the Bridgestone Invitational, but when he wound up in a final threesome with Woods and Stewart Cink, he switched his shirt to lime green.
 
Didn't matter -- he shot 71 and finished three strokes behind.
 
DIVOTS
For the first time, every player at the Mercedes-Benz Championship was on the early commitment list for the Sony Open next week in Honolulu. That changed Tuesday when Adam Scott decided not to play. ... Joe LaCava is on the bag this week for Davis Love III. LaCava is the regular caddie for Fred Couples, who does not plan to start his season until the Bob Hope Classic. ... Stuart Appleby is wearing Kapalua brand shirts this week. His deal with Ashworth ended last year, and his new clothing contract is not complete.
 
STAT OF THE WEEK
Only seven of the 34 players at the Mercedes-Benz Championship have won a major.
 
FINAL WORD
'I think she came five years too early to try to play the men's tour.' -- Stuart Appleby, on Michelle Wie playing the Sony Open for the fourth straight year.
 
Related Links:
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    Cabreras win PNC Father/Son Challenge

    By Associated PressDecember 17, 2017, 11:36 pm

    ORLANDO, Fla. - Angel Cabrera and Angel Cabrera Jr. closed with a 12-under 60 for a three-shot victory in their debut at the PNC Father/Son Challenge.

    The Cabreras opened with a 59 at The Ritz-Carlton Golf Club and were challenged briefly by the defending champions, David Duval and Nick Karavites, in the scramble format Sunday. The Argentines went out in 30, and they had a two-shot lead with Cabrera's son came within an inch of chipping in for eagle on the final hole.

    They finished at 25-under 199 for a three-shot victory over Duval and Karavites, and Bernhard Langer and Jason Langer. The Langer team won in 2014.

    Mark O'Meara and Shaun O'Meara tied for fourth at 21 under with Jerry Pate and Wesley Pate.

    Cabrera wasn't even in the field until two-time U.S. Open champion Curtis Strange and his son, Tom Strange, had to withdraw.

    Duval and his stepson went out in 28, but the Cabreras regained control by starting the back nine with back-to-back birdies, and then making birdies on the 13th, 14th and 16th. The final birdie allowed them to tie the tournament scoring record.

    ''This is certain my best week of the year,'' said Cabrera, the 2009 Masters champion and 2007 U.S. Open champion at Oakmont. ''To play alongside all the legends ... as well as playing alongside my son, has been the greatest week of the year.''

    The popular event is for players who have won a major championship or The Players Championship. It is a scramble format both days.

    In some cases, the major champions lean on the power of their sons for the distance. O'Meara said Saturday that his ''little man'' hit it 58 yards by him on the 18th. And on Sunday, Stewart Cink said son Reagan told him after outdriving him on the opening four holes, ''In this tournament I may be your son, but right now I'm your Daddy!''

    Jack Nicklaus played with his grandson, G.T. They closed with a 64 and tied for 15th in the field of 20 teams.

    Rose wins; Aphibarnrat earns Masters bid in Indonesia

    By Will GrayDecember 17, 2017, 1:59 pm

    Justin Rose continued his recent run of dominance in Indonesia, while Kiradech Aphibarnrat snagged a Masters invite with some 72nd-hole dramatics.

    Rose cruised to an eight-shot victory at the Indonesian Masters, carding bookend rounds of 10-under 62 that featured a brief run at a 59 during the final round. The Englishman was the highest-ranked player in the field and he led wire-to-wire, with Thailand's Phachara Khongwatmai finishing second.

    Rose closes out the year as perhaps the hottest player in the world, with top-10 finishes in each of his final 10 worldwide starts. That stretch includes three victories, as Rose also won the WGC-HSBC Champions and Turkish Airlines Open. He hasn't finished outside the top 10 in a tournament since missing the cut at the PGA Championship.

    Meanwhile, it took until the final hole of the final tournament of 2017 for Aphibarnrat to secure a return to the Masters. The Thai entered the week ranked No. 56 in the world, with the top 50 in the year-end world rankings earning invites to Augusta National. Needing an eagle on the 72nd hole, Aphibarnrat got just that to snag solo fifth place.

    It means that he is projected to end the year ranked No. 49, while Japan's Yusaku Miyazato - who started the week ranked No. 58 and finished alone in fourth - is projected to finish No. 50. Aphibarnrat finished T-15 in his Masters debut in 2016, while Miyazato will make his first appearance in the spring.

    The results in Indonesia mean that American Peter Uihlein and South Africa's Dylan Frittelli are projected to barely miss the year-end, top-50 cutoff. Their options for Masters qualification will include winning a full-point PGA Tour event in early 2018 or cracking the top 50 by the final March 25 cutoff.

    Cabreras take 1-shot lead in Father/Son

    By Associated PressDecember 16, 2017, 11:23 pm

    ORLANDO, Fla. - Two-time major champion Angel Cabrera and Angel Cabrera Jr. birdied their last three holes for a 13-under 59 to take a one-shot lead Saturday in the PNC Father-Son Challenge.

    Cabrera, a Masters and U.S. Open champion, is making his debut in this popular 36-hole scramble. His son said he practiced hard for 10 days. What helped put him at ease was watching his father make so many putts.

    ''We combined very well,'' Cabrera said. ''When I hit a bad shot, he hit a good one. That's the key.''

    They had a one-shot lead over Mark O'Meara and Shaun O'Meara, who are playing for the first time. That included a birdie on the last hole, which O'Meara attributed to the strength of his son.

    ''My little man hit it 58 yards by me on the 18th,'' said O'Meara, the Masters and British Open champion in 1998. ''It's a little easier coming in with a 6-iron.''

    Defending champions David Duval and Nick Karavites rallied over the back nine at the Ritz-Carlton Golf Club for a 61. They are trying to become the first father-son team to repeat as winners since Bernhard and Stefan Langer in 2006. Larry Nelson won two years in a row in 2007 and 2008, but with different sons.

    ''I'd imagine we have to break 60 tomorrow to have a chance to win, but hey, stranger things have happened,'' Duval said. ''I've even done it myself.''

    Duval shot 59 at the Bob Hope Classic to win in 1999 on his way to reaching No. 1 in the world that year.

    Duval and his stepson were tied with Bernhard Langer and 17-year-old Jason Langer, who made two eagles on the last five holes. This Langer tandem won in 2014.

    Jack Nicklaus, playing with grandson G.T., opened with a 68.

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    Woods' 2018 schedule coming into focus ... or is it?

    By Golf Channel DigitalDecember 16, 2017, 5:46 pm

    Two weeks after his successful return to competition at the Hero World Challenge, Tiger Woods’ 2018 schedule may be coming into focus.

    Golfweek reported on Saturday that Woods hopes to play the Genesis Open in February according to an unidentified source with “direct knowledge of the situation.”

    Woods’ agent Mark Steinberg declined to confirm the 14-time major champion would play the event and told GolfChannel.com that Woods – who underwent fusion surgery to his lower back in April – is still formulating his ’18 schedule.

    Woods’ foundation is the host organization for the Genesis Open and the event supports the Tiger Woods Learning Center in Anaheim, Calif.

    The Genesis Open would be Woods’ first start on the PGA Tour since he missed the cut last January at the Farmers Insurance Open.